Local tourism officials monitoring effects of Superstorm Sandy

5:32 PM, Oct 31, 2012   |    comments
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Sarasota, Florida -- The first priority for tourism officials, and for many of us, is thinking of and trying to help those affected by Sandy. Those same tourism officials realize that over the next couple months, we could see some of the residual effects of the storm in the form of fewer visitors.

More than anywhere else in the country, New York is the biggest market for tourism here, from Pinellas County to Sarasota. Visit Sarasota County has postponed a major tourism campaign in New York out of respect.

"We're just figuring that right now isn't a time to send a vacationing message particularly in the New York market," says Erin Duggan with Visit Sarasota County.

So far, as a result of Sandy, tourism officials say they haven't heard of any widespread cancellations. Karen Rangel with the Lido Beach Resort says they've only seen isolated cancellations as they get closer to the busy season.

"Our communities in Florida are successful with a strong influx of tourism. Those new dollars that come into our community on a year-round basis help us sustain jobs in the hospitality industry," says Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

There are about 18,000 of those jobs in the Bradenton area, and double that in Sarasota. That's part of why it's important to look to the future and hope for the best here as well as in the northeast.

"Our stance is we want the market to get better," says David Downing, deputy director of Visit St. Pete/Clearwater. "We want them to recover, to do whatever they need to do, and when they think it's time to take a vacation, please come back here."

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